Why didn’t the Lake District National Park Authority object to the plans to extend the Kirkby Moor wind farm?
The planning application to extend the life of Kirkby Moor wind farm was refused by South Lakeland District Council on December 5. That refusal concurred with the refusal of all 13 consultee parish councils, local district and county councillors and an overwhelming objection by local individual residents of the area.
As well as that democratic and individual representation, every Lake District agency bar one, committed to the Lakes’ preservation, enhancement and visitor success (Cumbria Tourism, Friends of the Lake District, Wainwright Society, FELLS, Open Spaces Society, Ramblers, etc) objected strongly to the application on landscape grounds and the continuing negative effect on tourism in the South Lakes area. The only organisation not to object was the Lake District National Park Authority.
This was the first such application for a time extension to an existing wind-farm, and was also the first response to a wind-farm in the park setting since the granting of World Heritage Status.
The application was considerably bolstered by the national park authority’s decision as consultee not to object on landscape terms, believing the eventual restoration of the site, which is outside the national park and beyond its remit, was more important.
However, the refusal decision reached by SLDC firmly reflected the 2015 planning guidance that no community should have an on-shore wind-farm imposed upon it against its will, and believing that any benefits would not outweigh the “continuing adverse visual impacts on the setting and character of a World Heritage Site”.
Considering the wind-farm is only metres outside the boundary of the national park and intrudes upon iconic views from deep within it, the LDNPA’s decision not to object was quite extraordinary.
If the national park authority’s policy is now not to object to wind-farm applications in the setting of the national park, and not to take any account of community opinion, I think we need to know.
Former Member of the National Park
l Editor’s note: The Westmorland Gazette contacted the Lake District National Park Authority after receiving Mr Hudson’s letter and here is a response from its head of development management David McGowan:
“The Lake District National Park Authority welcomes the opportunity to comment on applications that may potentially impact the setting or special qualities of the Lake District.
“Kirkby Moor Wind Farm is within the setting of the national park. We were consulted by South Lakeland District Council and considered the planning application to extend the life of the existing turbines. We assessed the magnitude and significance of likely visual effects on the Lake District and its setting.
“As a result, in our response to South Lakeland District Council, we decided not to object to the application. These wind turbines already have a presence in the landscape and we considered that the retention of the turbines for a further eight years would not detract from the enjoyment of the landscape and special qualities of the Lake District.
“That, however, does not mean they are acceptable as permanent structures in this sensitive landscape. Members of the public can view our full response on the planning application pages of the South Lakeland District Council website.”
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